The National Observer’s Cortes Connection

The National Observer’s Cortes Connection

This radio broadcast was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative.  Many of you probably know Linda Solomon Wood as the Editor-in-Chief of the NATIONAL OBSERVER, but the award winning investigative journalist lived on Cortes Island for five years after 9/11. While she currently lives in Vancouver, Linda returns every summer. A few months ago her publication hired a reporter to cover Cortes and Quadra Islands. In this morning’s interview I asked LInda Solomon Wood about her life, career in journalism and the National Observer’s Cortes connection. LInda Solomon Wood A Passion For People’s Stories “My biggest passion is people. I love talking to people, I love hearing people’s stories. I like the way journalism is  a passport into the interesting lives of other people and their stories. That’s really what motivates me, finding the next great story.” The first story she remembers writing as a little girl in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was about mandatory school busing.  “ … I remember there would be this guy standing in front of the high school going ‘last call for the ghetto express.’ So it was a story about that guy, and what that time was like - from the point of view of a thirteen-year-old.”  Solomon Wood obtained an intern job writing obituaries and wedding notices “in the basement of the Greenfield Recorder’s office” in Massachusetts. She studied journalism at Northwestern and later became a full time reporter for the Tennessean. She was 20 or 21 at that time.  Linda Solomon Wood with President Jimmy Carter The Big Things Journalism Can Do “A lot of...
Linnaea Food Security Guild

Linnaea Food Security Guild

This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative. Linnaea Farm’s just launched a new initiative – the Linnaea Farm Food Security Guild. The guild offers farm produce, as well as seasonal products such as beef, pesto, and apple juice. It will also host farming and preserving workshops. Members pay a $40 membership fee, and can then top-up their account according to their budget.  potatoes - courtesy Linnaea Farm Cortes Currents: Tara Warkentin interviews Tamara McPhail The Concept Of A Guild  I called up Tamara McPhail, executive director of the Linnaea Farm Society and resident farm steward, to learn more about how the guild cultivates local food security. Tamara tells me “the concept of a guild is a cooperative of people passionate about something.”  But the word has a double meaning. When it comes to permaculture, a guild means a way of grouping plants symbiotically, for maximum harvest and use of space. Tamara hopes the Cortes community can work together, like plants in a guild, to stay nourished and healthy during COVID-19.  “Food security, in the broadest sense, means that everybody has access to nutrient-rich food,” Tamara tells me. “But,” she continues, “on a personal level, food security means that we’re connected to our food source.”  Connecting To Your Food Source For Tamara, being connected to her food source means supporting local fishers, farmers and food-producers. It also means getting to know the soil, and learning to grow food too.  “I guess true food security is really when we can encourage as many people as possible to have those...
Tanya Henck: Cortes Island Women’s Centre

Tanya Henck: Cortes Island Women’s Centre

This radio broadcast was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative. The Covid-19 lockdown has sparked an upsurge in domestic violence both in Canada and worldwide, as well as making it harder for support services to offer counseling and shelter for victims. On April 15, 2020, I interviewed Tanya Henck, founding member of the first Cortes Island Women’s Centre which opened in January 2019. A combination of diligent sanitization and long microphone cables, plus a newly constructed and never-inhabited space, enabled us to set up for Covid-19-safe recording.  (The room was so bare that you may hear a certain amount of natural reverb in the podcast.) Tanya has lived on Cortes Island for 14 years, and has long been aware of the persistent and under-addressed problem of domestic violence.  Every community whether rural or urban has to deal with this issue, she says, and Cortes is no exception.  Yet Cortes, she feels, has been for years “behind the times” in coming to grips with this problem. Photo credit: “Domestic Violence Hurts” by ghetto_guera29 via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License) Cortes Currents: De Clarke interviews Tanya Henck from the Cortes Island Women’s Centre History of the Women’s Centre project Tanya’s desire to support women in crisis led her into contact with what was then Campbell River Transition Society, a charitable organization offering crisis counselling, shelter, and other resources to women and children at risk from domestic violence.  When she first set up a table at Friday Market with Transition Society literature, it was new information for islanders.  Most people on Cortes, she recalls,...
Window Into A Pandemic

Window Into A Pandemic

This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative. Dr. Erik Hockheimer was a general practitioner in the Netherlands before giving up his practice to work with Doctors Without Borders which he did in many countries throughout the world and continues to support an advisor. As a GP he was very involved in the HIV epidemic and that led him to co-author and edit a book on viruses called Virology, published in 1991. While with Doctors Without Borders he continued to work with tropical diseases, HIV, Hepatitis B, and Ebola. He’s retired now but still consults with a number of NGOs particularly around helping refugees.  Viruses and how they work “Viruses are very small little things and they need a cell to live in unlike bacteria or fungi,” says Dr. Hockheimer. They then use the factory of the human cell to reproduce themselves. This is why it’s harder to fight a virus with medication because when you attack a virus you attack a cell. It’s a very different story fighting a virus versus other bugs. Much of what we know about testing and treating viruses, including SARS and ebola come from what was learned from HIV.  “We don’t know yet if we can implement what we know on this virus,” says Dr. Hockheimer, who reminds us that though there are four or five coronavirus that pop up every year, we don’t know much yet about this version of the virus. “I Like Viruses. Not Particularly This One” Dr. Hochheimer reminds people that: “Viruses aren’t all bad. We wouldn’t be...
Loni Taylor On Food Security

Loni Taylor On Food Security

This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative.  “To me, food security is about being able to relive the individual and community from stress and anxiety around how they’re going to feed themselves and their family,” Loni Taylor says. “Taking that weight off allows our community to fulfill all the other roles that they want to or were meant to fill. And it enables us to be stronger and healthier in the process.”  Loni and her dog, Xusum, in her garden. Photo credit: Vicky Kelman COtres Currents: Tara Warkentin interviews Lonia Taylor A Vibrant Green Hub Loni Taylor is a member of the CCEDA – the Cortes Community Development Association. CCEDA is working on initiatives to improve local food security. They are informed by a recent survey, which addressed community needs and desires. Respondents were eager to grow more food, but identified a need for permanent growing space. “[Many] people that have the knowledge and the desire to grow their own food don’t have sustainable year round housing on Cortes, and they’re usually displaced sometime in the spring.” Loni says. CCEDA’s food security initiatives aim to fill this gap by providing solid ground for all islanders to grow food in. CCEDA is entrusted with 2.7 acres of commercial land in downtown Manson’s Landing, adjacent to the Community Housing project, that they hope to develop into a vibrant green hub that meets islanders needs. CCEDA also hopes to generate produce and revenue for the Food Bank.  Loni shares her own dreams for a community food preservation and storage facility.  “One of the main...
The People Working Tills & Stocking Shelves

The People Working Tills & Stocking Shelves

This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative. In this episode, we get a deep dive from Eric Hargrave, manager at the Cortes Natural Food Cooperative, and Bill Dougan, manager at the Gorge Harbour Marina Resort General Store.  These are two fellows who run grocery stores and have given a lot of thought to the modern food chain.  They present their insights with wit and charm. Together we explored the impacts that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on their lives and their businesses.  I was especially curious about the pandemics impacts on frontline workers — those working the tills and stocking shelves.   We began with understanding all the new stresses, responsibilities and risks associated with the job and how the managers are supporting the workers through this. Image courtesy Cortes Natural Food Co-op Cortes Currents: Max Thaysen interviews Bill Dougan & Eric Hargrave How Society Values Those Workers I wondered how society valued — and compensated — these workers before and how that might be changing now.  Grocery workers on Cortes generally begin around $15-$16/hr, a little above the minimum wage in Canada.  And after years of service, they may expect to climb as high as $18 or even $22/hr.   Bill wondered aloud how this compares to a construction worker, who may begin at $18 or $20/hr and climb quickly to $25 and eventually to $35-$40.  Is this a gender biased valuation of different positions in society?  What does it say about those values grocery workers are considered among the most essential front-line...